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Australian CR5M Ration Review

By: Beppo
Date: January 12, 2007

Quick review of the Australian Defence Force Combat Ration (Five Man), also called a "Five Manner" (or more accurately, a "Foyv Menna", when the words "Five Manner" are pronounced with an Australian accent, hehe). This CR5M was from 2003.

The Australian 5-manner rations are called that because they contain enough rations to support 5 men for 24 hours. A typical vehicle crew consists of 4 men, so they take a 5-manner with them for extra. To my surprise, unlike American MREs, the Australian five manner doesn't contain individual meals, but rather a small number of large-sized entree, starch, and vegetable packs, along with accessories/condiments/extras that each individual puts together on his or her own to complete their own personalized meal. I won't really get into a taste test description here, because everything was delicious . I had the Menu B (you can see the contents of this as well as of the other menus on the info sheet) and suffice it to say my favorite entree was the lamb with vegetables and rosemary.

Anyway, rather than describe the taste and textures of the food (again, all of it tasty), I will go into describing things that made these rations interesting (to me, anyway). As I said, this ration pack was designed for each individual to customize his or her own meal, and for that there are 4 plastic containers which can be used as serving/storage bowls (not sure what the fifth man uses, though I suppose he would use the food's foil pack itself to eat in, after everyone has gotten their share). I must state however, that being a veteran of many a buffet line, the rather large so-called multiple serving packs with enough food for 2 or more people each, was fine for me by myself. After the one giant meal, however, I didn't eat anything for the rest of the day.

Back on topic, inside the pack are 5 spoons, 2 odd-looking can openers (sort of like giant American P-38s), and two little green scouring pads with detergent pre-applied to them. There were also a LOT of muesli (chewy granola) bars, 15 of them; 2 big tubes of "Butter Concentrate"; 5 tubes of condensed sweetened milk, like the Italian rations (and just like the Italian milk, it had turned brown in color, which according to the info sheet is normal but harmless when condensed milk is stored in warm conditions); there were also rubber bands, little bits of colored paper (described on the info sheet) and matches (made in the Philippines). There was also one can of plum pudding, which was very good. One thing I noticed is that a lot of the food was made in New Zealand.

Like most old ration chocolate, the milk had separated itself and the chocolate was crumbly. not bad though.

...And now, the piece de resistance:

I'm actually keeping this one (for now) as a souvenir. Who would have thought - Army issue Vegemite! Like many Americans, I was curious as heck about what Vegemite was when I first got here, but after hooking up with the Aussies, within my first three months or so I'd gone through a travel tube and a whole jar of the stuff given to me by them. Not bad, it's an acquired taste. I started out barely dabbing some on my toast and choking on it (I wanted to have one, just to be able to say I did it). By the time I was halfway through the jar, however, I was slathering a 1/4-inch thick layer on my cheeseburgers!